June 30, 2009

Pictures of The Past

These three pictures represent the few pictures that my family have of the lives they lost in 1944. The man in the center picture was affected the most since he ended up fighting against all kinds of people. it affected him so much that he couldn't speak of the war, nor of his lost past.
The others would simply side with him and say I don't remember, and in the end so much was lost. The pictures are the link to the past, and helped open a few doors before it was to late. none of them are dead, but as with all people age has blurred their memories of the events and the dates, a blessing of sorts.
So much was lost during the war, their homes, their culture, and often people they loved. Husbands, brothers, and cousins. Now, it is a race against time to tell of the Transylvania that these people loved.
One where the music mixed with the songs of birds, where the air was fresh and the children could play in the creeks. They tell of the Hungarians and Romanians who lived with them in the village and their cultures and songs vibrating through the night with their festivals. How many of the people of the village might intermarry between the cultures and this allowed for a blossoming of a newer version of the cultures that the parents came from.
Almost all gone. But not yet.

June 29, 2009

Where is Transylvania?

Where is Transylvania? Is there such as a place as Transylvania, or did Bram Stoker make it up?

Because of the nature of this blog and the fact the area is known largely by the myth of Dracula, and the answer I give is Transylvania it is found within the borders of the country of Romania, and has been since the year 1919.  However, during the years of 1940-1945 part of Transylvania was found in the borders of Hungary. In times past, it was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Austrian Empire, so asking the question "where is Transylvania?" also depends on the time frame which the person is asking. (If asked where is Transylvania physically the longitude and latitude are: 46.7667° N, 23.5833° E and in central Romania, close to Hungary)

On the above map of Europe, we see where Transylvania is on the European continent right near the border of Hungary, in the country of Romania. The population of Transylvania is primarily ethnic Romanian, but there are also Hungarians, Roma, Jews, and Germans who live there or who have family who have lived there. My family from Transylvania are Saxon Germans, but there are also Landler Germans (who came from Austria) and Swabian Germans. This is the same with the other people of the area- most of the people who now live in Transylvania are culturally Romanians.  However, there are still large communities of Hungarians within the Northern area of Transylvania.  Even before 1918, there was a diverse community of people, as shown in the map that deals with the nationalities found in the Kingdom of Hungary.  In the 1880, it was mostly a Hungarian population, but these numbers might be off considering that a Romanian living in Transylvania had a harder time finding a place in the government.

Let's go back in the past a bit shall we?

The picture below is a map of the Empire of Austria, which was also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, before 1919, and the First World War. At that time, Transylvania was a province within its borders, but it had a large population of people who were closer to the newly independent Princedom of Romania. It was a vital piece of land, filled with as many cultures and peoples as now, perhaps more so. It was home to many ethnics groups including the German Saxons of Transylvania, as well as several Jewish communities.

The Grey area in the bottom right of Europe, around the time of 1910, is the Austrian Empire, and the land it had, and the white areas to its right are the Kingdom of Romania and the Russian Empire. Transylvania, was at various point ruled by Emperors, Kings, and Princes. The people were asked to live there, or lived there for centuries, and it remained on the whole a peaceful territory.

It's no wonder people outside of this land don't know where it is, and don't know it's rich history.  This history also includes the Saxons of Transylvania which I have written a book about.

My question for Today is this: What is your most favorite folk tale of Transylvania?

June 28, 2009

Did You see the Shield? The Shield of The Saxons of Transylvania

This is a reasonable reproduction of the Saxon people's shield. From it I want to point out the one part that is always pointed out to me. The seven castle in the bottom part. It is the symbols of seven castles.

In German Sieben is translated to seven , and burgen to castles, seven castles. Hence the name Siebenburgen. There are other symbols as the sun and eagle. This relates to the Kingdom of Hungary which for a long period of time held the land of Transylvania.

The Saxons of Transylvania would not only have this shield but would also build many cities in Transylvania.  They would also have their own faith in the Christian religion, that of the protestant belief of Martin Luther.

The Hungarian people of this land were known by a different name.  The same holds true with the Saxons, as not all Germans who lived in the borders of Transylvania and the Banat were in fact, Saxons.

What other names are found in the area?

June 27, 2009

Out of the Land They Loved

This picture represents a Saxon village, this would be where my parents were born. One returned to live there for many years afterwards, and one never saw his homeland. In their own ways they miss the land and the people.
I know that my father who has less ties to Transylvania isn't certain he wants to go back, but he still speaks fondly of the place he was born. My mother and her family returned to Transylvania until she was thirteen, and then they left. The land left an indelible mark on her. She misses what she had and never really said goodbye to the land she loved. She left behind friends and family. In many ways, her longing to move closer to her mother might have something to do with her unspoken wish to return to her homeland.
Because they were Germans, and are Germans, it affected her personality, she is hard to decipher and family is all consuming for her. She seems angry at times about life, and expects everything from everyone. My father is different, loves where his lives, and won't move for the life of him. He loves his family and adventures that he can take them on here. Never, ever on a plane. A boat perhaps, plane no.
Whatever the reason, they both love Transylvania, and when there is even a small piece of information going on in Romania, they rip it apart trying to get more information. They are out of the land they loved, but still very much drawn to it.

June 26, 2009

Castles, Castles and A Queen.

What do these two images have in common? For on thing they are both pictures of Bran castle, the castle is found in Transylvania and is the focal point of the novel Dracula. So in many ways, this palace has a lot of history to it. It also houses the heart of a Queen. When parts of Romania were return to Bulgaria, Queen Maria's heart was transferred to this castle. The castle belongs to the descendants of Princess Ileana, youngest daughter of Queen Maria. The intend to make it a building dedicated to the history and legend of Dracula. I wonder about what their ancestress might think.

I must say it is an imposing building, and was built by the Teutonic Knights, and later its most illustrious resident lived there for much of her life in the 20th Century. Queen Maria did not die there, but in another palace far removed from Transylvania.

June 25, 2009

Who are these People?

This small little image is another of the Saxon outfits, except it's much older. It's another of my little treasures. Shoebox find, within a chest in my grandmother's house. Oh yes, she adds that's her, and a friend. After they were confirmed, but before they got married. She thinks she was about sixteen. She married at the old age of seventeen. Okay, I don't consider that old, but some in Transylvania did.

She is what I'm writing about in my upcoming book. Her and her husband and the people who left and died during the Second World War. It's not easy, as often their memories consist of "I don't remember" which really means I can't talk about it right now.
A challenge to be sure, but I don't want the faded photograph to become the only link to my past that I have. In fact many of the family didn't know the sister who died young, at the age of five, and when we put together a genealogy something was missing... until I don't remember gave way to, well there was one more child, a girl but she died young. Of what, well a chocking sickness (otherwise known as diphtheria). More information forthcoming? perhaps.
I'm deep in the middle of velvet trying to recreate the dress of the Saxons for a doll for my girls, and without either pattern or to many colour photos I think I'm doing a fair decent job. It red velvet and the apron is linen. I'm not going to mention how often I've pricked my fingers with pins. It's starting to look good though.
Like my vision of these people.

June 24, 2009

A picture in My head.

If writing about Transylvania wasn't enough I'll be showing some pictures of the land and its people. I've revamped this background to the blog a bit so tell me what you think of it. I spoke of this place before now here is a picture.

It's Bran castle. The castle that Queen Maria helped to restore. It is now the property of the Hapsburg descendants, as one of her daughters married into the Hapsburg family.

Photo is taken in about 1940. This is the view of the church coming from the back. The main entrance is on the other side.

This old photo is special to me as it is one of the only photos taken of the church where my family is from. It is the church where family and friends celebrated their lives and shared hopes and dreams. In 1944, this all came to an end, when the war forced an evacuation of the Transylvania Saxons.

A friend plans to return to Transylvania and I'm hoping to bribe him out of pictures to add to this site.

This is a colour photo of a couple in traditional Saxon costume, I love the bright colours and the white. that shows the wonderful embroidery that must have taken hours to do. In a larger picture you can see that on the woman's red vest, there are flowers of various colours cross stitched on it.

I hope that these pictures will be the beginning of a revitalized blog. Tell me what you think.

June 23, 2009

Queen Maria's Romania

Welcome to all the new people who follow this blog, great to have you here. Jump in and comment. Queen Maria of Romania is an interesting figure to say the least.

Before the war she was flirty and vain, and a pain for the King at the time. Yet once she became Queen she showed her passion for the Romanian people, in her won dynamic way.

Some suggested that she was the power behind the throne, and yet she never allowed her husband to feel that she was leading. They had a unique relationship, as many times people suggested that her children weren't her husbands.

The case could be made for the last of her children... as Hannah Pakula argued. Not the others. she had six children though there was the one about...

She was a writer of considerable talent, and she had a charisma few could withstand.

And she gained Transylvania for Romania after World War I.

June 22, 2009

Dacing to the Beat of Transylvania

Welcome to everyone who is new here. Comments are always welcome, and enjoy the posts! This one is about my adventures in music, so here's to some wonderful songs!

I love music and mostly I listen to my regular fare of Motown and 1960's music. I love that music. Of, course I wasn't alive then but I still enjoy it's much better than what is out there now. Recently though I was flipping through the TV to find something that might catch my eye. I don't take to much time to look at what is on maybe about 30 seconds, this way if it's a commercial I'll wait and see. I hit the multicultural channel at just the right time, and lo and behold, they had singing and dancing and... and MUSIC!

I didn't understand a word they said, but it was incredibly hypnotic and wonderful, the dresses, the music and the melody. I had to ask my mother, what this was. She speaks several different languages, and can normally make out a few more than what I can.

It was the Romanian language, and the background pictures on the screen were of Transylvania. The dress is a version of their traditional dress. And the music, well that would be what they sing!

Needless to say I'll be seeing more of this. Maybe it will help improve me Romanian, or at the very least I'll learn a bit more about Romanian dress, and music. It has a quick beat, uplifting and melodic. I for one am enchanted. I never expected the music to be as delightful as it was.

I'll be raving about this more tomorrow, as I must go and work on my book on Transylvania...

Review The Online Magazine: The Blue Jew Yorker

Yesterday I received an email from Daniel who asked that I review his website, which is an online magazine. I of course looked through the current issue and the back issues, and loved it.

I can say this is an excellent magazine. I'm not Jewish (Either by heritage or religion) but I found this to be enlightening and the satire in issue #6 is beyond great.

For those who wonder about what all this is about there are so many wonderful facets to this site, the poems are great, it is visually appealing and easy to read. There are thought provoking essays, and in issue #1, there is an essay about the crisis of reading.

Issue #6 though is different, the writers are using satire at its finest, with some of them being laugh out loud funny. Don't take my word for it, go and see this website.

Go and read all the issues, as they are fine pieces of writing unto themselves. I only wish that I had more hours in the day to read these pieces. Of all I will say that issue #6 is the best. There is so much power to this issue, and so much that even with laughter, it causes one to think. By the way, while not giving anything away, issue 6 isn't what you think it is... in terms of writers.

In case anyone who has a good book out there on Transylvania, I will be more than happy to review it send me a comment or email.

June 21, 2009

Writing to Transylvania

(This is a bit of a letter I wrote a while ago. It's to Transylvania.)

Dear Transylvania,

Sorry I'm not doing such a great job promoting you on my blog. My book is coming along and it's about you. Yet, the passion in it is not there. It's possible that I feel no one will care what I have to say about you.

My friends it seems, spend most of their time asking me what would make me want to continue writing about such a place. As yet I haven't come up with a good answer. Most people don't comment, though I know a lot of people come to see this blog. I guess they see what my friends see, that the writing isn't passionate.

You are a very passionate place. You have a past and future that I can only dream of. Your cities each have wonderful stories, but I can't seem to harness that passion. You have hundreds of people who claimed a place in history, and their voices are trapped in the mists of time. I need to bring them out.

I'm sure some might be better at this, but yet you called me. I am determined to do better. Far about the whining of children, and the time I lack. I'll do better. I love the land and the people and the passion that you give. I'll be putting that back into this blog. And my writing.

As always, with a bit more passion,


June 20, 2009

An Art of Progress

I must admit that I've found things in Transylvania have a way of both changing rapidly and remaining the same at the exact same time.

Take for example many of the cities I spoke of a while back, they had many of the firsts in Transylvania, electricity, universities. Each one was unique and still is. Many of them were inhabited by a variety of people,and this aided or hindered the development of the progress in each city.

Not because of people ( they were hard working and industrious.), but either the location of the city, or because the power at the time focused on other cities. There is an art to progress. It adds beauty and value to things. By the same token it doesn't. Many of the cities are unique precisely because they have hundreds of years of history in them. For example Cluj is a wonderful mix of both past and future.

I love Transylvania in both its power past and its present and future. I've been so busy writing about its past that its present is often overlooked, as well as its future. For this there is an art of progress as well.

June 19, 2009

Dracula at my Door. Not in my Culture.

Welcome to the new followers of this blog. Keep up with the comments and feel free to jump in. This is a post about my main irritant, Dracula. Not the person, but the myth.

Dracula is fast becoming the bane of my existence in my home. For some reason the myth that there was a really figure that did all these things is present in the cultural fabric in my area, North America. Most from Transylvania will dismiss this as legend and say that the person was not much more than a minor warlord, who by virtue of his birth in Transylvania and his regular return there isn't really all that important.

Still I receive at least one email per day asking me if I'm going to write about Dracula. I have done so on a number of occasions, but I'm doing so again for many a person's benefit. Vlad Tepes was born in Transylvania, and was by birth a prince of Wallachia.

He fought against the Turks, the Hungarians, the Germans or anyone who he thought might change the course of his power. He earned the nickname of impaler based on the method of killing his victims.

Yes, he died. In fact legend has it that his head was sent back to the Sultan of the Ottoman empire in a jar of honey.

It was Bram Stoker who gave rise to the legend of Dracula and the Romantic notion of fangs, blood sucking and the rest. What I find most interesting is that Stoker never once visited the place he wrote about. It is a good book, but it doesn't have the facts right, but since it seems to have this real person in it, many people take the work of fiction, and say that certain parts are fact.

This book Dracula is a work of fiction. This book Dracula is a work of Fiction. This book Dracula is a work of Fiction.

No matter how many people are interested in Dracula they never ask about my culture. By the way for many they hadn't heard about Dracula until they came to North America. So I can say Dracula isn't a part of my culture.

June 18, 2009

A Soul of People and Life

To all who are new, welcome, feel free to jump in and comment, and add links to some great blogs. Comments are welcome, and great.

Everyone is right. Transylvania has a soul and a heart that can't be found anywhere else. Maybe because it lives history or because the land is beautiful. Or more likely it is the people who make it beautiful. It is in my opinion the most beautiful place on earth.

I finally was able to speak with my grandmother on her memories of growing up in Transylvania. She is a Saxon, (for those who don't know, the Germans who lived in Transylvania were called Saxons.) and lived there for much of her life. She loaned me a book on her village that she grew up in and I'm slowly making my way through it.

My German is passable, but certainly not my Saxon. But it is interesting to see that the houses and land hasn't changed, it is as if time as slowed down in this area. The pictures that she showed me are similar to the ones I received from friends of the village. The only difference really is the fields are greener, and the houses are not white. If your wondering she lived in a little village called Oberneudorf, even before 1950 it had about 800 people living there, close to Bistriţa .

I must add the pictures of the meadows and the forest is wonderful and I strongly suspect that the land hasn't changed all that much. Many of the people who have returned to see their villages spoke of being allowed to film and take pictures of their homes, and the Romanian people go out of their way to keep the land as it has always been.

Yes, tiberiu, you are correct the soul is in the countryside. It is the heart of Old Europe.

June 17, 2009

Writing About Transylvania

I have a question to ask all the people who follow this blog, would Transylvania be better or worse off without the history and culture that it had?

To suggest that Transylvania was one culture or another is incorrect. After reading the email and doing my city series, for me this much is certain. I can say that many of the cities that I mentioned ( go look at them... feel free to comment as well) many of them have diverse populations.

In some cases the "main" population is gone, due to growth of the city or World War Two when many either were evacuated or something far more sinister happened to them. On the whole, there is a strong population of Hungarians and Romanians that remain in Transylvania. Each provides a unique cultural perspective on Transylvania.

One of the most interesting things to come out of this email that was sent to me was that my friends who, didn't know much about Transylvania, or nothing beyond Dracula, found through the use of the web and other places, many signs and other cities features that have both Hungarian and Romanian on them. There is also signs with German and Romanian on them.

It seems int eh last while there is a strong push to see all the cultures of Transylvania and to show their history. One of the most valuable things I can say about it is that the writing is one the signs.

I'm writing a book about Transylvania and I need your help it is about World War Two and the effect son the peoples in the area. Add your comments and send emails to me about what you think should be added to this book.

June 16, 2009

Death of Transylvania's Culture?

Thanks to Martianul, who wrote the comment a couple of posts ago, yes I will be sending you an email with the entire email that was sent to me.

I was in fact horrified about this email. My family comes from Transylvania and is of German origin. We would be known as the Saxons. I know about the place through the eyes of the Germans who lived there, and there isn't a time when it is mentioned about cultural genocide.

I contacted the Romanian Consulate here in Canada. My Romanian is passable and the person who I spoke with had a strong grasp of what I was saying.

Her comment to this email, was that yes at the beginning the peoples were descending into anarchy in the area, and there was much looting and loss of homes. But over time after migration and change of population, the people of Transylvania were able to develop a great history.

She was saddened by this email, as she felt that the work that the Romanian and Hungarians and Germans of this area to make it more beautiful is still not complete. As for documents, she pointed out that many of the documents are still there. During the communist rule, she said that there was a strong push to remove documents from the churches and into the state run facilities, but there are hundreds of thousand of documents that can be found for most of the last thousand years.

She was kind enough to send me a list where I could write to for documents. I feel that this has put my mind at ease, but in the same way, I'll still be looking for answers as to why this email came about.

June 15, 2009

Death of Transylvania's Culture?

I hope by now you've all read that email, I mean really read that email. Take your time, it's important, it deals with the feeling of Hungarians and Romanians and culture. I would suggest that the email implies something far more sinister, so read on.

I contacted the Hungarian Consulate General. Yes, I got up earlier and spoke with a real person. Now my Hungarian is minimal, and their English isn't great, but we got some things worked out. I'll give you the basic answer to what they said.

Yes, they moved many old documents to Budapest, mostly to protect them, they feared a Russian Revolution in Romania, being so close to the border of Russia. They didn't want their history to be destroyed, especially when many of the churches in Russia were being burned down.

I commented that many churches stood in Russia. The comment was that in smaller towns away from the main cities, the churches were looted and often burned. I could see their point.

I asked about Romania and how they treated the Hungarians in Romania. While they mistreated some, this is what happens when power is exchanged. He was quick to point out that the Romanian, Hungarian and German populations of Transylvania, were all in favor of uniting with Romania. What about the peasants and people who didn't have a say?

That is harder, as there wasn't a vote that would define where people who go. It would have caused chaos and anarchy. Hungary was already descending into that. The Austrian Empire was no more. The priests and Hungarian nobility saved what they felt should be saved.

This gives me a bit more of an answer about Transylvania. It was about protecting their properties, and heritage. I'll be contacting the Romanian consulate today.

June 14, 2009

Death of Transylvania Culture?

I think that with Transylvania, there isn't much to write about. Okay have I got your attention? Okay sit down on your chair and think of something to comment 'cause I've run out of ideas to speak of on this subject. No, just kidding.

Note that the italicised email below came to my email box, but I have found this on a website as well.  This does a lot of damage to the culture and people of Transylvania.

"It is indeed fortunate that many of the ancient Transylvanian documents, dating back as far as the 11th century, were transferred to the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest, some before World War I, and others during World War II. Thus, in spite of all the Rumanian efforts to eradicate the past, the true history of Transylvania can still be proven by thousands of ancient documents and the traces of the once great Western-oriented culture of the Hungarians in Transylvania can still be found in libraries and museums, not in Hungary alone, but also in Austria, Germany, Italy, France, England, and the United States of America.

The Romanian culture is entirely different from that known as the "Transylvanian culture", which is in reality a regional diversity of the West-oriented Hungarian culture. The Rumanian culture is Balkan-oriented, and specifically Rumanian, based on the history of the Vlach migration from South across to Albania, and from there up to Wallachia and Moldavia. It was brought forth by Balkan influences, just as the Romanian language itself, which is composed, according to the Romanian linguist Cihac, "of 45.7% Slavic, 31.5% Latin, 8.4% Turkish, 7% Greek, 6% Hungarian and 0.6% Albanian words." Even today, the Romanian culture as such, has no roots in Transylvania. It is being "imported" constantly and purposefully from Bucharest into the Transylvanian province in order to crowd out and replace the traditional Hungarian culture of this conquered and subjugated land.

Future of Transylvania and its capital Kolozsvár is to return to Central Europe and to Hungarian Culture where it belongs. Transylvania was GIVEN to Romania in 1921, and again in 1947, without a plebiscite. This notorious Treaty is known as The Diktat of Trianon, Hungarians were forced to sign in Paris. Ever since Transylvania was awarded to Romania, Hungarians, Germans and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of Romanian Chauvinists. They have consistently and systematically been subjest to forced assimilation and persecution. Romania is probably the most xenophobic country in Europe today. Romanians in cities like Marosvásárhely (targu mures) and Kolozsvár (cluj) are practising ethnic cleansing an a scale only seen in former Yugoslavia. Hungarians are subject to constant discrimination, Hungarian signs are painted over or not allowed at all, intimidation by Gheorghe Funar is carried out against Hungarians on a daily basis aimed at driving out all Hungarians from this ancient Magyar land."

I got this email a few days ago, and the subject line was Why don't you tell the Truth about Transylvania? I though that the end was a bit more important than much of what was said, as this end seems to suggest that there is a type of cultural extinction happening here.

The author comments that Hungarians were peaceful and loving to their neighbors. I'm not sure of how this anger came about, but I wonder about it. I've looked into the usual suspects in the interest wikipedia, and the Hungarian government website as well as the Romania. There is no mention of such past things.

To explore further I'll be contacting both the consul generals of Romania and Hungary on the subject. One is near my home and the other is far enough away that I'll need to phone them. this is something that has caught my eye, and I want your opinions as well.

I have a feeling it was this post that made this person send the email.

June 13, 2009

Royalty. Transylvania, and Fire

To all of you who have just joined us welcome. To all who are returning, you're in for a surprise.

I recently received an email that I'll share with you, I won't mention the name, but I'll give you the email this next few posts are my response to this.

" You seem to know a lot of Transylvania. But there is no heart to this place. It is evil. Though you mention that there are people who live there, my first impression is that of history, of bloodshed and death. You mention the cities, but I don't see them. Transylvania is nothing more than a dot on the map. I think that there will always be fighting and bloodshed in this place. Even now there is in fighting between Hungarians and Romanians. People don't like one another there. I suspect this is in all of Europe but in this area especially. Transylvania has yet to give me something to believe in" ( Email sent June 10, 2009)

At first I admit I was angry with this email, and then I began to think does this man have a point? Is it a land of danger and bloodshed? Is that what people think if they know it at all? What about the royalty? What about the castles? The people?

Then I saw an answer, in both ways the email is correct and so am I. Transylvania is a place where many ethnic groups live, but it is one of the lucky ones since during much of its time it has been controlled by royalty, who by definition control the population.

I looked into the Romanian Revolution of 1989, and in many cities in Transylvania, there were clashes between Hungarians and Romanians. So it isn't all peaceful in Transylvania. Then again it really never was.

Transylvania was the path to the West for the Ottoman Empire, and the kings of Hungary would ask people come to populate the land, in essence to fight and die. I think that many don't want to speak of this in such a way but it is true.

It didn't matter who lived there the people who fought died and the people didn't fight died. So many of Transylvania's royalty are famous because of war and fighting. I suspect that Queen Maria of Romania wouldn't be as famous if World War One didn't break out.

Vlad Tepes name was famous, because of writings of Germans and Russians and Romanians, due to what he did with his victims of war.

I guess Transylvania, no matter how peaceful it looks, it a place filled with fire, pain and blood.

June 12, 2009

Transylvania and Royal People

Welcome to those who are new to this blog, feel free to comment as it is great to have you here.

This post is about John Hunyadi, a man born to a mistress of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. Or so the legend goes, what is certain is that he became a powerful man, and is now considered a national hero by both Hungarians and Romanians. It was his son who reign longer and did more to promote his father.

He fought countless battles against the Ottoman Empire, and aided in the rise of both Stephen the III of Moldovia and Vlad Tepes III of Wallachia. Both man would rise to different levels of fame, as Stephen is considered a saint in the Romanian Orthodox Church and Vlad became know to the Western World As Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula.

Johan Hunyadi was raised in the royal house of the Holy Roman Emperor which gave rise to the belief that he was Sigismund's son. Some of the legends about his birth vary but one of the most interesting come form the fact that the family crest was changed to add a Raven to it after his birth.

He became and powerful general and he would live long enough to see a victory that would ensure peace for 70 years in his Hungarian land. It was not war, or killing or something historical making, but the plague that killed Hunyadi.

He is buried in the Roman Catholic Church in Alba Iulia, now present day Romania. Above is a picture of the tomb, and is beloved by many in Hungary and Romania.

June 11, 2009

Transylvania Had Royalty... No Really it Did!

I'm amazed with people. Sometimes I wonder if they understand the fine art of writing about a place they haven't been to before. One suggested that I speak about vampires, and another about the big castles. all though were amazed when I told them that Transylvania was a principality for a time.

A what? A principality. Means it had a prince. Like Price Rainer and Princess Grace? Sort of.
Oh... do they have one now? Yes, but he is a pretender to the throne... oh what's a pretender? Say like Bonnie Prince Charles of England. Oh... so did Charles live there? No. So then who's the pretender? Crown Prince Otto von Hapsburg of Austria.

I know from the blank stares I what the next question is. They ask it and I roll my eyes.

But it's true many people don't know much about Transylvania or its past. So I'll give you my next person whom I'll be writing about Crown Prince Otto von Hapsburg of Austria. He is still alive, and had he reigned he would be Emperor Otto of Austria and King of Hungary, and Prince of Transylvania.

Born in 1912, he lived under the rule of Two Emperors, Franz Joesph who started the First World War, by wanting to punish Serbia for killing the heir to the throne, Ferdinand and his wife Sofie and then his father Karl, who became Emperor in 1916. The family of Karl was large, and his wife was pregnant with their child when he died in 1922. Otto then became pretender to the throne of Austria and Hungary.

Later in 1966 he was allowed to return to his homeland of Austria only after the enforced signing of a waiver saying he would not involve himself in Austrian politics. He would later comment he wished he hadn't done so.

In 2007 he gave up his title as head of the house of Hapsburg to his son. By this time he was 94. His son is named Karl, but is not pretender to any of the thrones, as his father is still alive.

It must be interesting to have lived the life he did, where people were a part of what would have been his Empire. Transylvania was included in this land, and he must have visited it as a young boy. He returned to Austria in 1966.

I don't know if he has ever gone to Transylvania, as it is a part of Romania, but it was incorporated into Hungary in 1867, and the title of Prince of Transylvania became a subsidiary title, after King of Hungary.Many people wonder why the Kings of Romania didn't simply become princes of Transylvania. The answer is simple, there was still a prince of Transylvania in Emperor Karl of Austria (At the time) and Otto is now pretender to the principality.

June 10, 2009

Royalty and Transylvania

Hi all, I have so many people to thanks today, for coming to this blog, you know who you are so please take some time to comment and to see some of the other pages and series that are going on on this blog. I just finished a city series, and check that one out.

I'll give an overview of why royalty and Transylvania have a link. For me I've always love royalty and history. For those who don't know ( and there are a lot!) my family is from Transylvania. In fact my parents were both born there. They were Germans, who were known as Saxons. So my interest in Transylvania is about my own past as well.

I've wanted to link my three passions together: my personal history to this place, my love of Royalty and my love of history in general. I had thought about doing a piece on the legends of the area, but everyone in the West knows about Dracula... maybe next time.

I found my passion of royalty works with Transylvania since the area had so many Kings, Princes and Queens. Some of them were not as well known and some where. Some are even buried in many of the cities in Transylvania.

Mary of Hungary and Maria of Romania both I think are the polar opposites of each other. Mary lived in the late 1300s, and while Queen of Hungary her life was filled with tragedy, and she never rose to become what she could be. I think people remember her more for being the last of the family to rule Hungary. ( Her family had links with Anjou, and English Kings). Maria rose above what people expected and became famous in her won right for doing everything she could for Romania and Greater Romania.

Royalty no matter what fascinates me, especially since many of them knew the land they lived in. Transylvania is unique since it had it won prince for many years.

That is the value I think makes Transylvania wonderful and the people who helped create it interesting.

June 9, 2009

Transylvania and Royalty that Mattered to it

To those of you who are new, welcome, join up and comment, and enjoy!

Mary of Hungary is unique among the people who lived as royalty. She was born to Elizabeth of Bosnia and was by her own right heir to the thrones of Hungary and Poland. She died at the age of about 24 since her year of birth is said to be about 1371. Her parents had four children, all daughters, and Mary was the eldest surviving of them. Her is certain, as she died near Buda while pregnant with a son, who died soon after his birth.

Her husband was Sigismund, who became holy Roman emperor and married a cousin of Mary's Barbara. History doesn't record why he married her, only he did.

Mary of Hungary though lead a life that was filled with intrigue, her mother was strangled before her. She accused her husband of planing this murder, and from then on lived nearly separate form him. Later it was said that her husband to revenge on Mary's mother's murderers.

In her family she was the last of the Angevin dynasty to hold the throne of Hungary. She is buried in Transylvania.

My Question for the day is this: What made Mary so important since she didn't leave any surviving heirs?

June 8, 2009

Transylvania and Royalty.

To all who come here and join welcome. Feel free to leave comments as they are an important part to this blog, it can't get better without comments. I'd love to have more people join this blog, and it's vital to have a dialogue going.

I'll be starting this new series on royalty with admittedly one of my most beloved figures of Transylvania, and Romania. She was born a English Princess and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her parents were of German descent-- her mother was from the Russian Imperial family-- and her father was to inherit a duchy in Germany. She was the second child, and eldest daughter. Before she turned seventeen she was engaged to a crown prince of a small territory. She became Queen in 1914, just after the beginning of a war that would change her world. At the end of the war she became Queen to more land, given to this country via a treaty. If I told you that this was Queen Maria of Romania, I don't think anyone would be surprised.

What I found most interesting was her way with the common people. She was a writer, a speaker, and someone who spoke her mind, she was on the cover of Time magazine in 1924, and she lived to see her grandson become King before his father and then his father, her son, become King.

She had three daughters, Elizabeth, Maria and Illeana and three sons, Carol, Nicholas and Mircea,one of whom (The youngest son Mircea) died young. She was know to be flirt and according to many had many lovers. To some she was the start of the Edwardian age in Romania.

It was through her that Transylvania was given to Romania. She decided that she needed to go to the Paris Peace conference, even though Romania had sued for peace earlier. She was against the peace treaty but knew that it was the only way to save her country.

She restored one of the most famous Castles in Transylvania, Bran Castle which is one of the older and lovelier castle in the Brasov area. Her unique ability to make people feel that they were in the presence of a special person made her beloved.

Some of the best books about her are The Last Romantic, and Born to Rule (If you want more information about Born to Rule see My Recommended Library blog. link on the right) When she died in 1938, the people of Romanian were genuine in their sorrow.

The last thing which she ordered before her death was that her heart be placed elsewhere from her body. Her body was laid beside that of her husband King Ferdinand, who had died in 1927. Her heart now reposes in Bran Castle. its first resting place was in Balchik Palace, but when it was returned to Bulgaria, her heart was moved to Bran Castle.

My Question to you is: Did Queen Maria of Romania help the People of Transylvania and why or why not?

June 7, 2009

Sunday Wrapup of The Cities of Transylvania

The cities of Transylvania have been a unique experience for me as I haven't been to Transylvania before. I interviewed people I knew who came from the area and used the power of the Internet to write about each city. Thanks to all who commented on the posts.

Tomorrow we'll begin my most favorite series. This is about the Royalty who influenced the people of Transylvania. Some are buried there and some are not. Some influenced from afar, while some lived in Transylvania.

I have a list of about 25 people, and I'll share some of them whom I'll be writing about to you right now, if there are more you'd like me to add please comment. If there are some that you think should be dropped tell me as well.

Mary of Hungary, Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, Emperor Karl of Austria, Stephen Bathory, Maria of Romania, Ferdinand of Romania, Stephen of Hungary, Andrew of Hungary, Michael the Brave, and this is just the start.

June 6, 2009

Transylvania and the Cities Within It Part 17 of 17

Well this is the last of the series, I've hoped that you've enjoyed it. My newest series starts on Monday. I'll deal with Transylvania's Royalty. I'll be writing about the people and the places in Transylvania that made them a vital part of its history.

I've always want to visit Transylvania. That much I think you've all gleaned from this blog. Please see the other posts if you have not. I've come full circle, my parent came from Northern Transylvania and for a long while I avoided talking about it. Not from shame, but from a lack of knowledge about the land they lived. More because in North America there is a lack of information about Transylvania, or Romania or anywhere in Eastern Europe for that matter. I'm not referring to the tourist guides or travel guides, but to the history books or biography books of the place.

I can say that the area has changed a lot since my parent left in the 1950s but much of it has no. The land is still beautiful and mysterious and has so many cities and places to see. I want to see as much as I can. Possibly to reconnect with my past, and to help others learn more about the real Transylvania.

I am adding one more city to my list, and while some wouldn't call them cities, for myself they have an important meaning. The villages surrounding Bistritz or Bistrita is the one place i will most enjoy going to. This is where most of my family grew up. They all have fond memories of the land and the places they played in.

The area is mostly farming communities, and some are close to the edge of Bistrita, but it makes it easier to get to them. Many of the building still stand, which is a testament to history and to the people who founded these villages. There were always Germans and Hungarians and Romanians and Roma living in these villages. In some cases even Italians and Russians lived in these villages.

Most of them I know by their German names, not by their Romanian but I'll list them here: Pintak, Heidendorf, Oberneudorf, Petersdorf, Senndorf, Burgehalle. All these villages and cities I want to see.

I hope that you've enjoyed the city series and that you'll join us for the royalty series. Please add who you'd like me to talk about.

June 5, 2009

Transylvania and the Cities Within It Part 16 of 17

To those of you who just came welcome, We're down to the last two cities and I hope you've all enjoyed them. Please check out the other cities, they are tagged in my labels as "city series" many of them I don't have much on or about, so please please please help me to fill in the blanks. I have many people reading from Romania and Hungary, fell free to comment as well.

This city is unique in all of the cities that I've come across. Possibly because it is the birthplace of a man who would make Transylvania famous to the Western World. He is also the person who causes the most explanation in my life. Sighişoara (Romanian) Schäßburg (German) Segesvár (Hungarian) or Castrum Sex (Latin) is another city of the Saxons. It is the birthplace of Vlad Tepes (better known to us in North America as Vlad Dracula).

This is one of the few cities, I would say the only city where the medieval citadel is still inhabited. There are two sections to this city one is located on a hill and is the original settlement, that dates back to the 1100s, although the place was known by its Latin name before then. This is one of the Saxon settlements, but it is unique since it was Vlad Tepes Dracul II of Wallachia who gave the Romanian name to the city. He also had coins minted there.

This was the city where a Prince of Transylvania and King of Hungary was elected. George I Rakoczi was elected in 1631 and his father was once a Prince of Transylvania as well.

The city has possibly hundreds of site but one of the most interesting is the citadel. At its top is the Clock tower which stand at 100 feet high and affords a grand view of the area. In the city is a weapon museum and the church on the hill that contain a cemetery with many German people of the city.

Many of the sites are found in the older part of the city but the newer area is beautiful as well with a strong population of Romanians and Hungarians, but not as many Germans. I'm anticipating a wonderful time in this city.

June 4, 2009

Transylvania and the Cities Within it Part 15 of 17

Hello and welcome to those who are new, this is nearing the final part of this series, and the next series will be about royalty in Transylvania. this will include Hungarian and Romanian and many other rulers of the land.

Mediaş (Romanian) Mediasch (German) Medgyes (Hungarian) Medwishc (Saxon) is one of the seven castles of the Saxons people of Transylvania. It is one of the older cities as well with history dating back to the 1100s.

This is not one of the "best known" cities, as I myself am of Saxon origin, but I can never remember this city, yet it is second in importance to the "best known" of the seven cities of the Saxons.

It has some of the best historical preservation in Transylvania and its medieval fortress is in near perfect condition. There are hundreds of statues and historical artifacts, but the best are the fortified churches that still survive.

Now it is inhabited with a Romanian majority, but it is the city with the most growth in 80 years, from about 10,000 to more to almost 70,000 inhabitants. This makes the preservation of its sites all the more impressive.

I hope to journey there soon, as many people tell me that the city is a place of both history and tradition. The people are friendly and willing to show their culture. I can't wait.

June 3, 2009

Transylvania and the Cities Within It. Part 14 of 17

To those who are new welcome. The city adventure continues. Zalău (Romanian) Zilah, (Hungarian) Zillenmarkt or Waltenberg (German) is a wonderful city in the heart of Transylvania.

Its history dates back hundreds of years, and is referred to in many documents. In some it is referred to as "villa" but this is confusing to me as villa can also mean one or two houses. I'm assuming the city as a whole and not one or two people.

There are many historic site to see many of them in the arts of the religious aspect. A theater and several churches are places people refer to in the tourist industry in North America ( granted, when I went to an office to speak to a tourist agent she seemed amazed that I wanted to see so many cities. Alba county yes, but this one county not much information.)

Not far away from the city is the ruins of the Roman fortress with its temples and monuments, and yes, I want to see that.

This mainly historical Hungarian community is now populated by Romanians, but it will be interesting to see how the cultures interact with each other.

I'm mentioning this, my next series will be on Royalty. ( From Romanian, and Hungarian, and beyond) Three more posts....

June 2, 2009

Transylvania and the Cities Within It Part 13 of 17

Oradea (Romanian), Nagyvárad (Hungarian) is a large city in Transylvania that lays near the border of Hungary. 

It one of the many cities where until after 1966, the 1977 census shows that the majority of the population identified itself as Romanian, the majority of the population was Hungarian.

One of the attractions that bring many people to see this city is river which runs through the middle of the city. It had both Romanian and Turkish influences as well. As the Turks captured Oradea in the 1500s. The city itself in mentioned as far back as the tenth century. Later A citadel was built but later destroyed , the ruins can still be found in Oradea today.

One of the most interesting things about Oradea is that many Kings and Queens of Hungary or the principality of Wallachia were buried within the city. Between the years of 1096-1437, there were eight Kings and Queens buried there. Some have interesting histories of their own.

The place I would most want to visit in the Roman Catholic Church in the city which has been there for centuries. For a time it was a museum and now is part of the Roman Catholic Church once more. It is known for its artifacts and dinosaur fossils.

June 1, 2009

Transylvania and the Cities Within It. Part 12 of 17

To those who are new, welcome. I'm still on a voyage of looking to find the best cities in Transylvania. If I miss any or anything or you'd like me to add one, feel free to comment.

This city is an ancient city as well. I've wanted to visit this area for a long time, and although it is not the first place on my list it isn't one would miss out on either.

Sebeş (Romanian) Mühlbach (German), Szászsebes (Hungarian) is one of the seven fortress that the Saxons refer to in the name Siebenburgen. This is [primarily built by the Saxons of the area, although some suggest that a Romanian population built it long before.

There is the church and the walls that are a sight to behold with much of the building taking place in the 1200s, after the Tartar invasions that destroyed much of the land. The city hall is also elegant and unique and houses many artifacts.

The population is now 90% Romanian but there is a small number of Saxons who live in the city. Although it is considered by the Transylvania Saxons as one of their cities they never had a majority population there, in 1850 they comprised about 30% of the population.

Still I want to see the land, and the city. It seems to be unique with all the cities, that I've mentioned, since much of what is written about it seems to be about the relations between it and other cities. It is Alba county which might have a factor in this.

Don't forget to see my new blog.